Interview Jino Kang – “Hand 2 Hand”

Posted: 10/19/2010 in HORROR INTERVIEWS

Latest “Hand 2 Hand” Trailer:

Since you are so multi-talented and have professional experience as a writer, actor, director and producer, which do you, have the most passion for and why?

Thank you so much. I think I write out of necessity. I write the story for me, a character that I can see my self in. It engages my creative side, and I like that. Acting is alright. It’s not my forte, but I think I can pull off the character; at least I do in my mind. But most of all, I like directing. It is another way I can express my creative side. And, whatever the outcome of the finished product, good or bad, I am responsible from start to finish.

You are highly recognized as an expert in the Martial Arts, which style or styles of Martial Arts were chosen for the fight scenes in, “Hand 2 Hand“?

I do like being in front of the camera to display martial arts and tell the world about Hapkido, my main discipline. However, “Hand 2 Hand” is a Mixed Martial Arts film, so I incorporated many different styles in addition to Hapkido, such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Muay Thai, MMA, Judo, Tae Kwon Do, and Wushu. Most of these Martial Arts have been portrayed in many films but the latest craze, which I think is here to stay, is MMA/BJJ.

For the fight scenes, I wanted to show it all without being too unrealistic like flying around like a bird. I believe Hapkido, which already incorporates most styles I mentioned, has the cinematic appeal to the masses. If you recall in the 70’s “Billy Jack” films were the first films to showcase Hapkido. The late great Master Bong So Han doubled as Tom Laughlin for the Martial Arts scenes. I believe it had a tremendous impact on the screen and to the people worldwide. Hapkido has the hard strikes and flashy kicks of the Korean and Japanese systems and devastating joint locks and throws of Judo, Jiu-Jitsu and Aikido (made famous by Steven Seagal).


Was there a collaboration with you and the Martial Arts community of San Francisco, CA which led to the production of your MMA film,“Hand 2 Hand“?

Yes. As I was researching the materials for the film, I got involved with the renowned Charles Gracie of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, as well as other luminaries like “Judo” Gene LeBell, Armando Ramos (Muay Thai world champion), and MMA fighter, Tim Lajcik (UFC veteran) and many up and coming fighters. With Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, I thought I was going to learn some moves for the film and that would be it, but I got entrenched in the intricacies of the ground game, and now I’m studying it on a regular basis (I just received a brown belt). In fact, Charles Gracie and I partnered up and are teaching the Art at my school. We also teamed up with the Muay Thai community and teach this discipline at my school as well.

NIke_Jino and Andrew

After years of studying the various Arts, I founded a style known as Hapki-Jitsu which incorporates Hapkido, Judo, BJJ and Muay Thai.

I am currently teaching Hapki-Jitsu at my school, Hapkido USA, in San Francisco, CA and the UFC Gym in Concord, CA.

Jino teaches adults

How and when did you come up with the story line?

I came up with the storyline in my early days training under Charles Gracie. I was inspired by the Art and the MMA/BJJ community.

Why did you choose the title of your film to be ‘Hand 2 Hand”?

You’ll have to watch the film to get it. There are many hidden references to it in the film.

‘Hand to Hand” premiered on July 25, 2010 at Regency Theatres, in Pasadena, CA.
Would you share with myself, our readers, and your fans what that experience was like?

I really didn’t know what to expect, since this was my first film festival experience. But it was really exciting to be invited to the festival since most Martial Arts films never get in. Action on Film International Film Festival caters to independents like me and we were very fortunate to be involved with them.

There were many filmmakers, producers, directors and actors. Some of them were just like me, who wore many hats. They had many informative seminars and social gatherings for networking and getting your film out there. I came away with more knowledge and new friends in the field. This was an extremely valuable experience that I will always cherish.

Hand 2 Hand won 2 awards out of 5 nominations, Best Action Sequence Martial Arts Feature and Best Villain Feature and the nominations were Breakout Action Star Jino Kang, Best Fight Choreography and Female Performer of the Year Michelle Choi.

Why did you choose Bill Duff, (“Human Weapon“) to be the villain and what was it like working with him?

Bill was filming the “Human Weapon” series, I believe it was the Korea episode, at the time he auditioned (via airmail/DVD correspondence) for the film. I really liked his personality. Despite his enormous stature, 6’5” and 275 pounds of hulk, I was actually a little worried because he was “too nice” and the character “Tokyo Joe” is a vicious, sociopath. But he did great. When he came on the set he was prepared like a true professional, and his performance earned him the award for best villain.

“Hand 2 Hand” won, ‘Best Action Sequence Martial Arts Feature’ at The Official Selection Action On Film International Film Festival 2010, as well as Bill Duff winning ‘Best Villain’!
When you reflect back to the beginning of writing, “Hand 2 Hand” did you think it would have the success which it has?

Jino Directs Bill and Jim at Solano Prison

I knew I had something special when we were filming, but I didn’t expect to win any awards. I just had to get it to the right people and get it shown. Del Weston from AOF was gracious enough to call me when he saw film and congratulate me on acceptance. I was thrilled by the news and I’ll never forget that moment. I had given myself one year of entering film festivals despite all the standard rejections. I’m glad that I stuck with it. I think it was my martial arts discipline of never quitting that helped me through the tough, agonizing times.

Because of the accolades, we just secured international distribution, and are negotiating US and Canada distribution rights.

Since your film was shot in San Francisco, CA do you plan on having a screening in the near future in San Francisco?

Hopefully by the end of this year.

What is your philosophy as a filmmaker?

Never give up, die trying. If you don’t have what it takes to be a success, “Don’t Do It!” If you have the talent and tenacity, finish your film and seek distribution. Even if you don’t get a traditional distribution contract, nowadays there are ample methods of getting your film out there. Most importantly, do your homework.

When did you begin practicing Martial Arts and who was your inspiration?

I was born into it. My father is a Grand Master and it was his legacy to pass down Hapkido to me. I used to wake up in the studio in Korea when I was a toddler with my gi already on. I mimicked his disciples. Twenty-one years later in the USA, I was running my own school and I never looked back.

Would you share a brief synopsis on your Martial Arts training and titles?


California State Championship – Grand champion
San Francisco Karate Championship – 1st Place
Interstate National Championship – 1st Place
All California Dynamic Open Championship – 2nd Place

Hapkido – 7th Degree Black Belt
Tae Kwon Do – 1st Degree Black Belt
Kyokoshin-Kai Karate – 1st Degree Black Belt
Gracie Jiu-Jitsu – Brown Belt

How do you feel you have grown as a filmmaker from your first film, “Blade Warrior”, to your latest film, “Hand 2 Hand”?

I have learned so much, with every film I feel that I’m getting better. I’m learning from people like my Co-Producer/DP, Kurt Nangle and Editor, Tony Urgo. Every film is a milestone and I believe I still have a lot of room to grow. I am ready for my next challenge!

What do you feel “Hand 2 Hand“ delivers to the viewers?

The discipline of Martial Arts provides me with a strong background for filmmaking, emphasizing perseverance, courage and self-sacrifice for the needs of the process.

I want to tell a good story with exciting visuals and authentic Mixed Martial Arts. My life-long training as a Martial Artist, beginning in my youth when my father taught me Hapkido in Korea, won’t allow me to point the camera at ‘fake fighters’, actors taught just enough for each shot. or “shaky camera method” to hide the inadequacies. So that an editor can later cut together a ‘fight’.

Every character in “Hand 2 Hand” who fights is played by an experienced Martial Artist, a seasoned competitive fighter, or has been trained by me to fight at the level appropriate to their character.

If the audience enjoys what I have created, I believed I have achieved my goal as a filmmaker.

Do you have any current projects which you are currently working on?

I do have two finished scripts, “Trained to Kill” and “Tenderloin”, which are slated for much bigger budgets. I’m also scripting “Hand 2 Hand II“. I would like to start pre-production early next year, depending on the funding.

To find out more about the amazing Jino Kang, please view the links below!

Film link:

Recent Demo for UFC-Gym:

School Website:


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